The Toothbrush And Other Proof Of Unbelonging

Introduction To My New Blog, “Bewildered By Belonging”

“Unbelonging” is actually a real word, at least as far as Mirriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary confirms. It is classed as an adjective meaning: not belonging.  A quote is provided by James Still, “…never taking a thing unbelonging to them.”  But in the context of my new blog I want to use “unbelonging” as a noun (and I do not see the reason that it is not being used this way) to be paired with its opposite among other sets of pairs: Happiness v Unhappiness, Joyfulness v Sorrow, Contentment v Dissatisfaction, Belonging v Unbelonging.

This blog will follow themes related to the struggle to belong, the experiences of surprise and confusion that can come with belonging, and the distress and disorientation of unbelonging.

The Toothbrush And Other Proof Of Unbelonging

She had noticed, after he left last time, that his toothbrush was no longer on the bathroom counter. She believed he would not return and managed her ache of despair all week. When he returned the following Friday she could not yet shake the heaviness that had been in her heart. She hadn’t yet recovered the possibility that he did still want to be with her. So when she made her greeting, her voice was flat and her hug perfunctory.

His heart dropped. Something was different. He tried to steady himself.
When he saw his toothbrush was gone he felt confirmed in his fears.

Inside his body (felt but not spoken) he went into a kind of shock. His gut knotted and his heart tightened. His worst fear would now come true; that she packed the toothbrush up as a message that she no longer wants him to stay the night or to be with her. He stiffened in preparation for the bad news. He went numb. His eyes glazed and deadened slightly.

She saw that there was no light in his eyes and she felt the stiffness in his body which made him seem so aloof. She heard the deadness in his voice. She had prepared herself for this all week and it was now coming true.


This is obviously a relationship that is in its beginning stages. But partners in a relationship with long duration and commitment will have the same heart wrenching experiences. What can we do with the painful fear that being loved and treasured has come to an end? What do we do with the ache of unbelonging?

So where will a conversation go from here?

The couple might talk about the toothbrush and its disappearance, each person putting aside the fear of loss and insecure feeling that they felt. They might gradually ease into more comfort and security. Their relationship might solidify. And they will surely have opportunities later to share the painful fear that comes when love feels threatened. Perhaps later they will take the opportunity to know each other in their deepest vulnerable need of one another.

Or perhaps now, in this early moment, they will begin the deep bonding that comes from showing their vulnerability and their growing dependency on one another’s love. Perhaps they will stand strong for that. Perhaps they will reach, shaking, with the intensity of love that is needed and due. Perhaps they will speak with full and feeling voices for the significance that they are beginning to have for each other.

Thanks for reading,

Robert Ogner, March 18th, 2016